Home / National News / Thousands of Mourners Join Hands at Vigil in Memory of Charleston, South Carolina Church Shooting Victims


(CHARLESTON, S.C.) — Thousands of people packed into a Charleston convention center for a vigil Friday night to remember nine who were killed when a gunman opened fire on their Bible study group in a historic Charleston church.

Themes at the vigil touched on forgiveness, and praise for the victims’ lives.

“At the end of the day, love will win,” Reverends Waltrina Middleton said. “Justice will win as well. But love will win.”

Middleton is the cousin of shooting victim and reverend DePayne Middleton.

Funeral plans have not been made for the victims, the medical examiner has not released their bodies yet, and sources tell ABC News it could be days before they’re released.

21-year-old high school dropout Dylann Roof is now charged with nine counts of murder, in one of the deadliest attacks on a house of worship in U.S. history.

“While we want there to be accountability and justice in court, we will not allow the hate that motivated him to take these lives to rule our hearts and our spirits,” Middleton said.

Roof’s family offered their condolences to the victims’ families on Friday, saying “words cannot express our shock, grief and disbelief,” in a prepared statement.

Roof’s friends told ABC News his plan to kill was six months in the making, fueled by his extreme racism.

Mayor Joseph Riley said the church shooting, meant to inflame racial tension, has had the opposite effect.

“If that young man thought he was going to divide this community or divide this country with his racial hatred, we are here today, and all across America, resoundingly saying he miserably failed.”

Parishioners at the Emanuel AME Church were holding bible study class Wednesday night when the suspect came into their Church and sat down with them for an hour. Then he opened fire, leaving the victims for dead.

At the end of the Friday night vigil, mourners joined hands singing “we shall overcome some day.”

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